Nonfiction Comic You’d Recommend to People Who Don’t Do Nonfiction
This is a good topic for me, because I typically don’t do nonfiction comics. It’s not that I crave escapism and avoid hard realism. Rather, series like Mars, with its use of deep symbolism, is very much about real life for me. It says more about who I really am, what it is to have a human experience, than any straightforward reflection from daily life. I actually see everyday experiences as unreal in comparison.
There is a distinction between the Conscious and Unconscious. The Unconscious is the fuller of the two, and that’s an understatement. Think about the last time you tried to recall a name, and nothing came to you. Two hours later, the name popped into your awareness. Obviously, it existed somewhere within you all that time, even if you could not access it. It took up psychic space. So what else is in there? What malignant fears or unrealized powers are there, and what influence do they have over you?
We tap into the hidden side in dream, in altered states of consciousness, in ritual and art. These activities speak to us in a language of symbols, bypassing linear consciousness and reaching a deep part of our being. A part for which that language is the native tongue. Dreams are powerful, rituals are powerful, because they affect us and transform us in ways the conscious mind cannot account for.
That was a lengthy preface for the nonfiction comic I will recommend, Epileptic. An autobiographical journey into the childhood of David B., when his brother’s severe epilepsy became the focal point for David’s entire family. They tried every new treatment fad that was out there, including moving to a commune and eating a macrobiotic diet. In a way, the illness takes over their lives. What saves the story from being merely journalistic is David’s exploration of his interior life. He shows us his dreams, his fantasies, the rich world of characters that came to life for him.
Some would say David B. was merely trying to escape his difficult situation, to create a world that he could control. I see something else — David B. going deeper than the surface level of being, to a universe of archetypes and initiations, experiences that challenged him, changed him, and ultimately helped him find his authentic self. Without those powerful visions, his daily experiences might have overwhelmed him.
That is the journey we’re all on. We come from adversity, and we have built-in tools to help us re-imagine ourselves. So pay attention to your dreams. Interact with your ghosts and guides. Give your imagination over to ritual. It is you that is waiting on the other side.
Tomorrow: Comfort Comic